No agreement has been reached during talks between campaigners and the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, regarding the fate of a huge protest and march scheduled to take place before the upcoming Paris climate summit.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Paris, the French government proposed reducing the size of the protest taking place on November 29th, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people. The government would like to scale it down to a stationary gathering rather than the planned march.
One activist source said that the event’s organizers will work with the government, but that a stationary rally of about 5,000 people “would not be acceptable.”
President François Hollande has said that the important United Nations climate conference, which has been in the works since 2011, will go forward with heightened security.
In expressing his wish that the protest and march scale down, Fabius expressed concerns and fears about the risk of another terror attack and of the type of crowd panic seen in Paris on Sunday when hundreds of people fled a vigil when firecrackers went off.
Alix Mazounie, a campaigner for Climate Action Network France stated that, “[Fabius’s] message was very clear. It was ‘I want to ensure that there is a form of public expression but that we need to potentially revise the format of these mobilisations’. His concern was for safety in open public spaces.”
But, campaigners argue that stifling the protest will just make the terrorists happy. A member of the campaign group Avaaz, Alice Jay, stated that, “We can think of few better responses to violence and terror than this movement’s push for peace and hope. No matter the final plans for the march in Paris, we urge people join other global climate marches around the world to show their solidarity and support.”
Mazounie added that, “This is not time to step back. We are in a country of free expression - that has always been the source of our power. This will be about unity, solidarity and peace, as well as climate change.
A final decision is expected to be reached by the French Prime Minister.
Many heads of state and government are expected to attend the opening of the summit, including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Angela Merkel and David Cameron.